Paddle Board Racks - Keep it Simple

I live in Seattle which is home to REI, Outdoor Research, MSR and many other outdoor industry manufacturing companies. Seattlelites love their gear and when it comes to racks, it's not uncommon to see full-on rack combinations - sup rack and kayak rack plus a bicycle rack then add a rocket box.
In the image below, the car has both a kayak and a sup rack.

When I visit Hawaii, few paddlers or surfers have any racks for their car to carry their watercraft, and they surf a lot more than we do.

When I started as a kayaker, I was no different than the average Seattlite paddler, I had Yakima hully-rollers, then transitioned to a J-rack, then a kayak stacker, then finally to just a Thule square cross bar, which I still use today.

The simple cross bar style does the job for both SUPs and kayaks. I can put both kayaks and sups on there at once and still use the rack for other purposes without removing a rack accessory.  Then attaching each boat or board with a twisted car rack strap (no whistle) to each cross bar. I pad my crossbars with insulation tube foam attached via velcro straps. Some strap pipe tape over the foam to give it a longer life and a more streamlined look.

Friends do like the Thule or Yakima sup racks for the security straps, but you can also use locking straps from Thule or KanuLocks to not only tie down but secure your gear to your cross bars. SUP racks do limit the amount of boards you can stack (max 2 boards). Whereas with the cross bar, I can go 4 high which I do for lessons (sometimes 2 stacks of 4).

Some friends just use their car roof, Hawaiian style. Add a yoga mat or towel folded over on the top, place the board on top then secure with two car straps through the doors. For the highway, place the board on tail first, then attach a twisted strap or rope to the bumper attached to the leash plug.

Got an inflatable? Just deflate it, attach inflated to your car roof with a folded over yoga mat or towel. Or attach to your stock cross bars with a 2 straps. You don't need pads on your crossbars as inflatables are soft.

Kayak and SUP rack
Pros of a SUP rack?
- Locking system / straps
- Streamline look
- keeps boards isolate to one side of the rack (if your rack is long enough to have more on it).
- Darrell Kirk of Stand Up Paddle the World puts lumber in his sup rack

Pros of a Cross Bar (no attachments)
- Lower loading height
- Cheaper or free (stock racks come with your car)
- Can put more items and non paddling items on rack (lumber)
- Can carry more boards and/or boats
- Can customize rack bar and loading options
- Less things to break and/or maintain

Cons of SUP rack?
- Raises height of rack making it harder to reach a sup up there
- Limits rack bar for other uses
- Only hold 2 boards
- Cost

Cons of a Kayak rack?
- Raises height of rack
- Limits rack bar for other uses
- Not all kayaks fit in curved bottomed racks. Hard chined or planning hulled ww boats won't fit curve.
- Cost

Cons of a Thule or Cross Bar or Stock Cross Bar (no attachments)?
- Without a kayak stacker (vertical tie-down bar) limits number of boats on rack (on sides)
-  Not as pretty but can look more pro

Click here for more paddler's car rack tips

Or go super DIY..
2x4 and Car Strap Rack


Any questions give me a holler. Join my mailing list! Contact me: salmonbaypaddle@gmail.com / 206.465.7167 - Check out our kayak and SUP classes in Seattle - Beginning to advanced instruction including freighter and tug wave surfing, coastal surfing, rivers and racing, plus PSUPA Instructor Certification.


Comments